The PRSA Silicon Valley Chapter hosted its 13th annual Media Predicts gala in November.
The featured panel was moderated by Jack Stewart, the senior tech and transportation reporter for Marketplace. Participants included Ina Fried of Axios, Laura Mandaro of Forbes, Mike Isaac of the New York Times, and Ryan Mac of Buzzfeed.
Here’s a recap of their 2020 predictions.
2019 saw yet more political turmoil and technology security trust issues. So, it’s not difficult to understand why the main focus of the night was, for a second year, technology regulation. For example, Jack Stewart strongly believes that 2020 will be the year that “the regulation of Facebook is going to happen.”
As we look at the progress of the technology anti-trust and regulation movement, it’s clear that not much has changed. In 2017, Deloitte issued an analysis of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations and found that 68% of them had never been updated. As a result, politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren have spoken out about big tech companies and come up with bold plans to break up major tech companies in order to end their anti-competitive acquisitions and have a better chance at regulation.
Ina Fried spoke to the regulation of big tech by saying, “[Big tech] is being regulated, we just don’t have the effective means to rein it in yet.” Laura Mandaro agreed. “The disillusionment we are all feeling right now is going to continue,” she said, but she added that “[people] will be making rules for more transparency in companies where the tech intersects with our daily lives.”
Ryan Mac added that it falls to technology reporters, like all of them, to educate law makers on technology and how it actually operates.
With new types of technology emerging and the lack of preparation and regulation in the U.S., transparency is yet another issue. In a world where money, technology and politics have come together, many can agree that Silicon Valley could be the next Wall Street. Fried argued that “in a lot of tech news, these issues become public. Who we take money from becomes very complicated, whether that’s on a personal level, at a company level or even at the international level.”
Panelists agreed that the U.S. has taken a major step in terms of transparency after the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) signed into law in mid-2018 requires that companies provide an opt-out on data sharing as well as clear statements of what data is being collected and with which third parties this data is to be shared.
Emerging Technologies and Smart Technology
Mandaro expects that, as the public mistrust of technology continues to grow, more people will join the “anti-technology technology club.” She explained, “We want to know what the newest and latest technology trends are—it’s part of our social cache,” she said. “But to actually acclimate to new technology at this speed is not realistic.”
Fried concluded by saying that big tech will make it difficult for emerging startups to gain visibility in 2020. “The expectation is that the next Uber isn’t right around the corner, but it probably is. The issue is that we are in this moment where the industry is dominated by how the big companies are reacting and a society that has really changed its views. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for startups. It makes it harder [for them].”